How To Help Someone Who Is Struggling To Breathe

We’ve all been there: trying to catch our breath and not succeeding. Whether it's a result of physical exertion, an asthma attack, or something else entirely, struggling to breathe can be frightening. But if you know how to help someone in this situation, it can mean the difference between life and death. In this article, we’ll discuss what steps you should take when helping someone who is having trouble breathing.

The first step in aiding someone who is struggling to breathe is determining the cause of their distress. Is it due to exercise? Asthma? An unknown medical condition? Knowing the source of the problem will help you assess the severity of the issue and begin treatment as soon as possible. Once you've identified why they're having difficulty breathing, try to calm them down and let them know that help is on its way.

Finally, provide whatever assistance you can until help arrives. This may include providing oxygen from a tank or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if needed. Additionally, use any medications prescribed by a doctor for severe cases such as asthma attacks or other conditions involving respiratory problems. With these tips in mind, you'll be well prepared to help anyone who needs your aid getting back their breath!

Assessing The Situation

When someone is struggling to breathe, it's important to assess the situation quickly and accurately. Start by determining if they are in any immediate danger - can they speak or move? Is their airway compromised? Are there any external factors that may be contributing such as smoke, debris, allergens etc.? If so, try your best to remove them from the source of discomfort.

Once you've determined whether or not it is safe for them to remain in their current environment, take a few moments to observe their breathing pattern. Are they taking shallow breaths? Does it seem labored? How often does this happen and what seems to trigger it? Knowing these details can help provide insight into the cause of the issue.

If nothing else has worked thus far and symptoms have not improved, call emergency services immediately. Make sure you give as much information about the person's condition and whereabouts as possible so medical professionals can respond efficiently.

Providing Oxygen

The first task in helping someone who is struggling to breathe is providing oxygen. It's important that you ensure the person has access to a good supply of oxygen, especially if their breathing difficulty is caused by an underlying condition or illness.

Oxygen can be given through either a mask or nasal cannula. A face mask should fit snugly over both the nose and mouth, while a nasal cannula consists of two small plastic tubes that are inserted into each nostril. With either option, it's important to make sure they get enough oxygen; otherwise, their breathing will become more laboured.

If you're unsure how much oxygen to provide, consult with your doctor for guidance on administering it correctly. This could mean adjusting the flow rate or changing the type of device used based on the individual’s needs. By taking these steps, you'll help give them the best possible chance of overcoming their breathlessness and returning to normal activities as soon as possible.

Administering Medication

If the person is having difficulty breathing, it may be necessary to administer medication. Depending on the severity of their condition and what treatments have already been prescribed by a doctor or medical professional, this could include an inhaler, nebulizer treatment, or oral medications. It's important to recognize any potential side effects that may occur with these medications and keep them informed about how they are feeling throughout this process.

When administering medication for someone who is struggling to breathe, follow all instructions carefully and make sure the dosage amounts are correct. In some cases, doctors may prescribe more than one type of medicine; if so, be aware of any interactions between those medicines that could potentially cause further issues. Additionally, always check expiration dates before giving any form of medication as expired medications can lower efficacy levels and increase risk of adverse reactions in some cases.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone reacts in the same way to different types of medications—some people may experience relief quickly while others might take longer to see results. Be patient when assisting someone with their breathing difficulties and do your best to provide emotional support during this time too.

Seeking Emergency Care

If someone is struggling to breathe, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. The first step should be calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency department. When speaking with an operator on the phone, provide relevant information about the individual’s condition so that appropriate help can be sent as soon as possible. Tell them whether they are coughing, wheezing, having difficulty breathing, or feeling tightness in their chest and neck area.

When arriving at the hospital, tell a nurse or doctor immediately about the person's symptoms and any other relevant health details such as allergies or medications being taken. In some cases, oxygen therapy may be given while waiting for treatment from specialists like pulmonologists and allergists who specialize in respiratory issues. This can help reduce shortness of breath until further treatments like bronchodilators or steroids are administered.

It's vital to keep track of any changes in symptoms over time; this will help doctors diagnose underlying causes of respiratory distress more accurately and quickly. Writing down when certain episodes occur, how often they happen, their severity level and what seems to trigger them can aid healthcare professionals determine proper treatments for long-term relief.

Offering Emotional Support

When someone is struggling to breathe, it can be a very frightening and overwhelming experience. It's important to remain calm when talking to them so that they don't become even more anxious. Let them know you are there for them, that you care about their wellbeing, and that they're not alone. Reassure them as best you can while taking into account the severity of the situation.

It’s also helpful to provide distraction techniques such as engaging in conversation or simply being present with them in silence if they prefer it. Ask open-ended questions like “How are you feeling right now?” and let them talk without interruption until they feel comfortable enough to take deep breaths again. Additionally, try reminding them of calming activities they enjoy doing such as listening to music or focusing on something else nearby.

No matter how serious the situation may seem, stay positive and remind your loved one that help is available and everything will eventually get better. Give reassuring gestures like holding their hand or giving a hug (if appropriate) – whatever works best for both people involved. Above all, show support by letting your loved one know that you understand their feelings and want nothing but good health for them going forward.


The most important thing to remember when helping someone who is struggling to breathe is that you must remain calm and act quickly. You should assess the situation, provide oxygen if necessary, administer medication as prescribed by a doctor, seek emergency care right away, and offer emotional support. Taking these steps can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety associated with breathing difficulties.

It's essential to stay focused on providing aid in order to ensure your loved one gets the best possible treatment. If they are unable to speak or communicate effectively due to their condition, be sure you have all relevant information at hand so that you can answer any questions medical professionals may have. Additionally, try not to take on too much responsibility; it’s OK for you to ask for help from friends or family members if needed.

Helping someone in need is never an easy task; however, it can be rewarding knowing that you were there for them during a difficult time. Make sure you take care of yourself emotionally and physically after this experience by taking breaks when needed and engaging in self-care activities such as yoga or meditation. Above all else, show compassion and understanding towards whoever needs your assistance – even small acts of kindness go a long way!